Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Malmedy

The Ardennes are a mountain range in the south of Belgium. With the highest point at a dizzying 485 mts above sea level, the term "mountains" is a bit of a stretch. I've seen road humps in India more worthy of that title. But you should forgive the Belgiums for calling them the mountains, because coming from the 12000 sq km billiard-table-flatness of the Flanders region, these little hills probably look imposing to them. I must admit, though, that it is probably the most beautiful part of the country.

Our trekking route was near a town called Malmedy in the Ardennes range. Compared to trekking in the western ghats in India you notice some differences here.
* While every trekking route in the ghats ends in a bhattru's house or D'Souza's place or a Ragi-mudde-serving pujari's abode, here they end in plush air conditioned French restaurants. Kinda spoils the experience a little but I must concede that the food is extremely delicious.
* Ticks, and not leeches, are the bloodsuckers here, and despite being more dimunitive they somehow manage to be creepier.
* You get overtaken by mountainbikes while you are trudging along on foot. It's not a nice feeling.
* At no point do you really feel removed from civilization. Even when you reach the peak, you just have to look up to see all the ultra light planes above you to spoil the fun.

It still was one hell of a day. The high point of the trek was when I discovered, during the lunch break, my life's true calling. We shunned the restaurant in favour of cooking our own food. While doing so I realised that I've been sent on this earth to make pancakes. They really don't get better than the ones I made that afternoon. I tossed one golden beauty after another while the phirangs watched admiringly. It was a little disappointing to find out later that the admiration was actually for the way I sat with my legs crossed for that long. Buana remarked 'You actually sit like a fakir'. Buana's impressions as usual were a laugh riot. Especially on this trip, maybe because he was wearing army boots, he did the german impression all day long and had us in splits.

Some pictures.
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